On Sunday July 19th, I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with privateer racer Daniel Rivas before his fatal MotoAmerica race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca—a tragedy that also took the life of Bernat Martinez.
While walking through the paddock on the last day of the Laguna Seca World Superbike/Moto America race, I ran into my friend Michael Ngo of Kushitani Leathers, a leading manufacturer in Japan of high quality motorcycle gear that specializes in racing leathers. Kushitani has a long tradition of supporting BMW racers, including Dani Rivas.
Photo by Greg Sharp.
“Hey Stacie, you have to come over and meet my racer Dani. He’s great, you'll love him,” Mike said enthusiastically. As we walked over to the pit, Mike began explaining some of the background of Dani’s story—how they met, how he was doing that weekend, how Dani had inspired him to become a sponsor, and how excited they all were about this passionate and talented racer.
“He’s from Spain, 27 years old, his ride didn’t work out, so Fernando who owns Allende BMW Racing Team asked him to come over and do a wild card ride here at MotoAmerica,” Mike explained. “He’s a really fast guy, has a lot of experience, and he’s on a very fast machine. He’s running a Superstock BMW in Superbike and qualified Super Pole 2. On a Superstock bike with one crew member, he managed to qualify 8th, which is an amazing achievement for a racer that is new to the track.” He had never met Dani before Laguna and although neither spoke the same language, they found ways to communicate.
Dani's backup bike.
Mike continued to tell us how ambitious their small team was as we entered Dani's pit. It was empty except for Dani's girlfriend, Belen, who even though she was busy with her own pre-race duties, invited us in and offered us cold water.
When Dani returned, we sat down in his pit for a quick interview. Since Dani only speaks Spanish, we proceeded with the interview in Spanish and have the translated English version below.
Spanish Interview Part 1
RA: Empezamos con su nombre, y su edad, y de donde vienes.
DR: Pues, me llamo Daniel Rivas, vengo de España, y tengo 27 años.
RA: ¿Y cuanto años esta andando una...?
DR: Hace 10 años ahora.
RA: ¿Y como empezaste?
DR: Pues, empecé en la Copa Movistar que organizaba Alberto Bush para selectional pilotos para el campeonato de Mundo 2005 y de allí yo tome otro camino y tome el campeonato Europa y el campeonato España.
DR: Si, mi ex-mecánico del año pasado de BMW España, pues se vino a vivir a Estados Unidos y se asocio con Allende. Necesitaba uno piloto, y yo tengo mucha confianza con el, y llegamos en un acuerdo y me vine aquí a agarrar la experiencia y correr esta carrera.
RA: ¿Y como fue este fin de semana?
DR: Bueno, es una moto nueva, la entrenamos el viernes, tuvimos bastante problemas de ser nueva y no la había probado antes. Pero bueno, el viernes no puede dar apenas ni seis vueltas en total, y me costo coger el circuito porque me hizo dar muchas vueltas. Y el sábado....
RA: ¿Es difícil, cuando vienes a uno...?
DR: Si, circuito nuevo, moto nueva, neumáticos nuevos, es un poco agarrar tarde.
DR: El equipo es nuevo también, no teníamos información del desarrollo y de, de muchas cosas, pero bueno, ayer conseguimos clasificar octavos y este resultado era super bien.
DR: Y bueno así fue ayer. Andamos contentos entro lo que cave, pero quería un poco mas, pero bueno. Y en la primera banda pues tuvimos montar eslicks en el último momento, salimos desde el último posición y es de que la salida de final pues iba montando ya 14 y se desarrollo la competencia.
English Interview Part 1
RideApart: Let's start with your name, age and where you come from.
Dani Rivas: Well, my name is Daniel Rivas, I come from Spain, and I am 27 years old.
RA: And how many years have you been racing motorcycles?
DR: It’s been 10 years now.
RA: And how did you start?
DR: Well, I started in the Movistar Cup organized by Alberto Bush to select racers for World Championship 2005 and from there I took another route and competed in the championships in Europe and the championships in Spain.
RA: And how did you arrive here with this bike?
DR: My ex-mechanic from last year from BMW Spain moved to the United States and became associated with Allende. They needed a racer, and I have great confidence with him, and we made an agreement and I came here to get the experience and compete in this race.
RA: And how's it going this weekend?
DR: Well, it's a new bike. We trained on Friday and had many problems with it being new and not tested before. Anyway, on Friday unfortunately I only was able to get a total of six laps, which caused me to not comprehend the circuit because I did not have many laps. And then Saturday…
RA: It is difficult, coming to a new track, right?
DR: Yes, a new circuit, new engine, new tires, it’s a little like trying to grab late.
The equipment is also new, we didn’t have schematics, and also many other things, but hey, yesterday we were able to place 8th and this result was super good.
Well, that's how things went yesterday. We were content with what came together, but wanted a little more. And in the first round, at the last moment, we needed to mount the slicks. From the last position we caught up to 14th, and then the competition unraveled.
Spanish Interview Part 2
RA: ¿Y donde vas a ir después de aquí? ¿Que pasa?
DR: Yo tengo un contracto para correr en Supersport de BSB (British Super Bike), pero bueno fueron unos problemas financieros a dejarme en casa temporalmente y me voy haciendo carreras y compitiendo en Europa en Superbike. En la última carrera hice pole y tome segundo.
RA: ¿Y después de aquí regresas a España?
DR: Si, después de aquí me regreso a España y veremos y formamos parte otra vez en Indianapolis, pero también tengo que hacer carreras en Europa con BMW.
RA: OK. ¿Y cuando son esos? ¿Cuando es la próxima competencia?
DR: La próxima competencia es Septiembre, el primer fin de semana de Septiembre.
RA: OK. Muy bien!
DR: Ah, muchas gracias.
RA: ¿Y, que mas?
DR: Nada, poco mas...
RA: ¿Y le gustas...?
DR: Esta agradable de campamento y esta de entretenido en tan alto nivel, sobre todo muy buenas estructuras y esta muy entretenido también a formar parte con el World Superbike hay mucha ambiente nopal y, ay que experiencia tan bonita a venir a Laguna Seca, hace muchas años que quería venir a correr aquí. Mira agarre la oportunidad de venir...increíble, si.
RA: ¿Increíble, si?
RA: ¿Y que mas? No se. Es mucho. Muchas gracias por su tiempo.
DR: Nada, a ti, a ti.
RA: OK, y buena suerte!
English Interview Part 2
RA: And where will you go from here? What happens now?
CONTINUE READING AT THE LINK BELOW
DR: I have a contract to race Supersport with BSB (British Super Bike), but there were a few financial problems that will leave me at home temporarily, but I will continue to race and compete in Europe in Superbike. In the last race I took pole and second place.
RA: So, after this weekend you'll return to Spain?
DR: Yes, after this I return to Spain and begin preparing again for Indianapolis, but I have races in Europe with BMW. The next competition is in September, the first weekend of September.
RA: And what do you like about Laguna Seca?
DR: The paddock is enjoyable and is engaged at such a high level, above everything the structure is very good and it is also very entertaining to be part of the World Superbike—the environment is very optimistic. Wow, what a beautiful experience to come to Laguna Seca. For many years I’ve wanted to come to compete here, and I seized the opportunity to race here. ...It’s amazing, yes.
RA: Incredible, right?
RA: OK, and good luck!
DR: Thank you.
We stood, shook hands and Dani turned to his trailer to continue prepping for his race. Mike and I continued talking as he showed me some of the special details on his leathers. One interesting thing he pointed out was that, at Dani’s request, his leathers were made without lining. Dani preferred leathers without lining because “he felt closer to the machine” this way.
As of the time of print, what caused this tragic accident is still a mystery. The bikes are still in quarantine and under investigation. There is speculation that the traction-control or ECU malfunctioned causing the power to cut out.
Computer controlled safety features assist humans in managing 200hp machines. These safety features are designed to cut power when a malfunction is sensed in order to help prevent accidents and injuries from happening. In most cases, it works.
To get racers on the grid, Cesar De Castro Maroto, Crew Chief and Fernando Allende Jr., Team Principle, have developed a relationship with BMW Spain.
Rivas was also sponsored by Easyrace Superbike Team, who published this tribute:
Two Gofundme accounts have been established to assist the families of Daniel Rivas and Bernat Martinez with these tragedies. Gofundme is not a tradition that is practiced in Spain, and the accounts were set up by supporters to assist the families in this stressful and demanding time.
Daniel Rivas: http://www.gofundme.com/zss5mk
Bernat Martinez: http://www.gofundme.com/f7h9jzp7f8
The help and camaraderie has been overwhelming for the families who are so grateful for the unconditional help and care that the racing community has shown since the moment the accidents occurred.
The accident that occurred at Laguna Seca on July 19 was incredibly tragic and shocking. It was such a pleasure to meet such a warm, charismatic, and talented young man with so much optimism. It was deeply saddening to learn the news of the passing of Bernat Martinez and Dani Rivas, and my heart go out to their families, teams, and fellow racers.